What do Cherries Have to do with 1000 Friends of Oregon?

Mon, 07/30/2018 (All day)

When you think of summer in Oregon, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s an escape to our glorious public coastline. A float down a river greenway. A hike through the forest. An outdoor concert in a city park. Or maybe it’s a bowl of ripe red Oregon-grown cherries, freshly picked from an orchard just down the road.

As an Oregonian, you’re probably thinking, “Why choose? Doesn’t our fabulous statewide land use planning system give us all those things?”

Okay...maybe that’s not exactly what you’re thinking. (Though it’s true!) Maybe you’re thinking something more like this:

What do cherries have to do with 1000 Friends of Oregon?

I’m so glad you asked! The answer is, “Everything.”

Just ask Bob and Barbara Bailey, owners of Orchard View Cherries, and longtime members of 1000 Friends of Oregon. Orchard View is a 4-generation-strong farm that spans 3,000 acres and 5 counties along the Columbia Gorge. Many of the Baileys’ cherry trees tuck up against the urban growth boundary of The Dalles, the heart of their family business. During peak season (that’s June and July), the orchards produce up to 400 tons of 8 different varieties of cherries per day—enough to fill 20 semi trailers! For the 2-month harvest, their year-round staff of 120 welcomes 1,000 additional seasonal employees, over 80% of whom return year after year, and all of whom cherish the orchards and iconic surrounding landscape, from Mount Hood to Mount Adams.

Even more than the spectacular scenery, it’s the sense of community, of family, that keeps their team so deeply connected. Because of the nearby urban growth boundary, most folks who are part of the Orchard View family have only a few minutes of commute time each day. Plus, their own families have easy access to all the amenities of a small city: schools, churches, shops, grocery stores, restaurants, parks, movie theaters, a community college, a hospital, and so on. And, of course, the urban growth boundary keeps Bob and Barbara’s orchards protected from sprawl.

That’s how land use creates vibrant communities.

You can also ask Regina and her husband Nahum. They first came to work at Orchard View 35 years ago, and soon fell in love—with the orchard, with The Dalles, and with one another. When it came time to find a home of their own, it was the Baileys and Orchard View that gave them a down payment grant to make it happen. 25 years later, Regina and Nahum have paid off their house. They’ve also entirely renovated their property, and over a dozen varieties of fruit trees flourish in their beautiful backyard. Regina now works as a nutritionist at the local hospital, and Nahum continues to work alongside Bob. They raised their children as part of the orchard family, and now when the grandkids come to visit in the summer, they often pitch in to help with the cherry harvest.

That’s how responsible land use changes lives.

And you can ask Manuel and his wife Aracelia, who have been with Orchard View since 1975—the year 1000 Friends of Oregon began! Manuel started as a picker and now manages a significant portion of the whole orchard. Aracelia, too, began her career there, and now works for Oregon Cherry Growers, the industry’s grower-owned cooperative of family farms. In 1982, they became the first of the Baileys’ employees to receive a down payment grant, realizing the dream of having a home of their own, and a place to raise their kids. This spring, one of their sons graduated from OSU with a degree in engineering, and the other just bought his own first house. Now, on evenings and weekends, you can find Aracelia and Manuel relaxing in their backyard, complete with a maple-shaded hammock and a very productive vegetable garden. Also in the backyard? An apple tree that grows 7 varieties of apples at once, with the latest addition being a graft from one of Bob’s trees!

That’s how land use keeps Oregonians connected.

But here’s the thing. All of this is in jeopardy—the lands, the community-building, the very act of farming. Bob himself says it best:

“We are experiencing real pressure to develop outside the urban growth boundary right now. The housing challenges around the state and outside financial interests make farmland look attractive for sprawl development. These pressures start locally, but go all the way to Salem, with constant legislative proposals to undermine our land use system.

I’m worried that these values about building community will disappear. We’ve all invested so much, and seen such great outcomes for every new generation of our farm family. I want a future my grandfather would be proud of, a future our grandkids will be proud to inherit. A future that’s more than strip malls, business parks, and highways. A future where we protect our working lands and farm families so that our communities can thrive.

I know that 1000 Friends of Oregon wants that future, too, and works every day to make sure it happens.”

That’s why land use matters.

And that’s what cherries have to do with 1000 Friends of Oregon. With your support, we can continue to create vibrant communities, change lives, and keep Oregonians connected through our land use system.

Join Regina, Nahum, Aracelia, Manuel, Barbara, and Bob in growing a fruitful future for Oregon by becoming a friend of 1000 Friends of Oregon TODAY!